I recently read about a survey designed to discover the opinions of teens regarding the trustworthiness of the Bible and what it says about Jesus. Is Jesus God? Did Jesus physically live, die, and come back to life? Is Jesus is the only way to heaven? Troy Anderson, an award-winning journalist at The Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Daily News, Reuters, Newsmax, Christianity Today, Charisma, and many other magazines and online publications, writes:
One in three Christian teenagers doesn’t believe Jesus is the only way to heaven.
And about two-thirds of teens in church youth groups have measurable doubts about the trustworthiness of the Bible or disbelieve it entirely.
These are just a couple of the findings in a survey of Christian teenagers in youth groups from 16 denominations. . . .
In a book examining the findings – The Jesus Survey: What Christian Teens Really Believe and Why – former youth pastor and bestselling author Mike Nappa wrote the results left him a “bit shell-shocked.”
“Among these Christian kids in our youth ministries, a full 10 percent have decided that the biblical accounts about Jesus simply can’t be trusted. . . .”
And the clear majority of the rest (60 percent) are either uncertain or unsettled and confused about whether or not the Bible can be trusted. . . .
In the book, Nappa cites an illuminating passage from Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the American Church, a book by Kenda Creasy Dean, a professor of youth, church and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. Dean lays part of the blame for the “blasé religiosity” of many teenagers on a “watered-down gospel.”
I have come to believe that most youth groups tend to emphasize activities over the Scriptures. The youth in these groups need a solid diet of apologetics during this time of life. More and more they will find themselves in the company of people who are determined to challenge their faith in God. Some movies, television programs, and books will always be around to provide negative views of Christianity. However, many of the teenagers in our youth groups will soon be in colleges where the over-abundance of liberal, atheistic, and agnostic professors delight in making themselves seem wise and superior by belittling students who are not prepared to have their faith challenged.
Our youth departments are failing our teenagers. Our ministries must begin preparing our youth to defend their faith in an antagonistic world. Perhaps then, fewer of our youth will walk away from Christianity during the college years. I repeat – give our youth a curriculum which teaches them how to defend their Christian faith.
I am reminded that in the times of Hosea God complained and promised His wrath upon the Hebrew priests who had failed to teach the laws of God correctly to the people: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6 ESV) Evidently, God takes the matter of teaching his people much more seriously than we seem to!